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Question Number: 26182

Law 18 - Common Sense 4/15/2012

RE: Senior level Adult

Laurence salmon of Cambridge, Herts Uk asks...

On two occasions this season the referee has stopped play to allow treatment for cramp to opposing players. I as manager have protested that this is not an injury and the opposing team is benefitting from having a 2-3minute rest and opportunity to reorganise. I have been told on both occasions to be quiet by the officials.

Who is correct?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Laurence
The Laws states that play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the opinion of the referee, only slightly injured.
Now many times the referee is not to know when a player is rolling around on the ground in pain after a challenge the seriousness of an injury so he is entitled to stop to deal with it. If play continues then the referee deals with the player when the ball next goes out of play. So in the case of obvious cramp play should continue to the next stoppage as it is not a serious injury. What that has done has not changed the stoppage just when it happens.
Unfortunately the modern game has developed this particular problem mostly I would say by the attitude of players, managers etc who now insist on stopping the game on every player that is down plus treatment on the field of play rather than off it when a player is down 'injured'. Most times it is premised on the fact that a teams does not want to play short for any period. The fair play stoppage is an example of the control being taken away from the referee with teams making the decision. FIFA has pointed out that too many players still feign injury during play, primarily for tactical reasons. Fifty-eight per cent of the players who were treated on the pitch during the 2006 World Cup eventually turned out not to be injured. Referees have to deal with that and at this level have stretchers etc to deal with injured players so those at lower levels have even more of a challenge
So referees know that the Laws are difficult to enforce when it comes to injuries at all levels. As I have said a player is not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play yet at all levels, most if not all, treatment is on the FOP. Try telling any player or any physio on an injury situation to move off the field of play for treatment or allow play to continue for a lengthy period on an injury and see the reaction one gets. The Laws allow for the player to be removed on a stretcher immediately after assessment yet how many times have you seen that happen.
Referees do their best to manage these situations which can be difficult and player safety plus match control issue are central to his thinking. Last season I had a situation where a player cramped close to the line. A player took exception to the situation and I asked the player plus physio to move one yard off the field of play for treatment so that play could continue. Anyway to cut a long story short I ended up cautioning the injured player and sending off the opponent for violent conduct. The game did not need it nor did I need the aggravation with a few minutes to go on a simple injury.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Instead of protesting, why don't you leave the referee alone to do his job? He isn't going to be in your ear when he thinks you've made a poor tactical decision, so don't get in his when you think he's made a poor decision.

The referee will use his judgement on the day to determine whether an injury appears serious enough - but the referee most likely won't know until after play is stopped that it's simply a calf cramp.

The longer play goes on without a natural stoppage (such as leaving the field), and the longer the player stays down, the more the referee will be concerned about whether the injury is in fact serious.

Just be grateful that the referee is concerned for the safety of the players - after all, it could be you on the ground one day.

I applaud the officials for telling you to be quiet and mind your own business. Stick to the playing and leave the refereeing to the refereeing.

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